Ukrainian ambassador to Iran: Some say it was a mistake to give up nukes


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Ukraine’s ambassador to Iran says some Ukrainians believe that if they had not given up the country’s nuclear bombs in a 1994 pact, Russia would not have invaded Crimea.

In an interview with Iranian Students’ News Agency, Ambassador Oleksander Samarskly said that Russian President Vladimir Putin disregarded the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances by sending forces into Crimea because Putin believes that Russia “did not sign an agreement with Ukraine’s new government.”

The agreement guaranteed that the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia would respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine if it gave up its nuclear weapons, which in 1994 was the third largest stockpile in the world. Former President Victor Yanukovych, who was politically aligned with Russia, fled Kiev last month after mass protests and an interim government is in place.

Samarskly said, “Now, some analysts and strategists in Ukraine believe that if they would have kept those nuclear arms, an event like this would have not happened.”

In the interview, he also admitted that he was concerned about the decrease in economic relations between Iran and Ukraine in light of the crisis in Ukraine and Iran’s closeness to Russia. He also criticized Russia for not delivering Iran’s order of S-300 missiles despite Iran having already paid for it.

In stressing that Ukraine’s position has not changed since Yanukovych’s ouster, Samarskly said that Ukraine “has not cut its communications with Iran, and the foreign ministers of both countries meet and speak together on the margins of international conferences. Even a few months ago, some of Ukraine’s ministers traveled to Iran and spoke with Iranian officials.”

He lamented, “Unfortunately, it appears that the Iranian side has not shown much inclination for expanding relations.” He added, “In the last six months, Iran has twice delayed the 5th Joint Economic Commission” between the two countries.

According to Samarskly, trade between Iran and Urkaine decreased from $1.2 billion in 2012 to $900 million in 2013. However, he said that part of the reason for the decrease was the difficulty of transferring payments.

Samarskly also said that he had met with Iranian Industry Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, and had agreed to various deals. However, none of the deals have been implemented. He suggested, “It’s possible that Russia has asked Iran to reduce its relations with Kiev, but I am not sure.”

On the advanced S-300 missiles that Russia has not yet delivered to Iran, Samarskly said, “Any wise individual that witnesses this situation will understand Russia’s approach toward Iran.”

He also said that the interim government in Ukraine has reached out to the Kremlin to resolve the dispute peacefully, but Russia has not yet responded. He added that one of the first priorities for the new government is to prevent any more blood from being spilled in this confrontation.

Iranian officials have been relatively quiet about the crisis in Ukraine. Fars News reported that in a telephone conversation today, Putin and President Hassan Rouhani stressed strengthening and expanding ties.

According to the report, Rouhani addressed the need to begin implementing the agreements between the two countries that were signed at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit last September in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Putin said that Russia would help in reaching a final nuclear agreement between Iran and the United Nations Security Council.